Tag Archives: Philippine Speculative Fiction

Usok: The Webzine of Fantastic Filipino Fiction

Hi guys! Been busy over at Rocket Kapre, but for those of you who still check BT, I’m proud to announce that Rocket Kapre has just launched Usok, a free webzine for Speculative Fiction by Filipinos. Issue 1 is now live, and we’re also accepting submissions for future issues. Come over and check it out ^_^ Here’s the Table of Contents for Issue 1:

Table of Contents:

* The Startbox by Crystal Koo

* The Saint of Elsewhere: A Mystery by chiles samaniego

* Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing by Kenneth Yu

* The Coming of the Anak-Araw by Celestine Trinidad

* The Child Abandoned by Yvette Tan

~ Coverart by Kevin Lapeña

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9/9/09: The Future of Pinoy SF Wants You

Are you ready to soar?

Are you ready to soar?

Sorry if that was a bit dramatic but it got your attention didn’t it? And while there is a time for circumspection, for earnest modesty, this is not one of those times.

Some of you might remember these posts and the promise I made to establish a digital publishing house for Philippine Speculative Fiction. I’ve been hammering away at that dream for half a year now… and I’m about to take the first major step at making that dream a reality.

On 9 September 2009, our new imprint will launch its website/blog dedicated to all things relevant to the readers and creators of stories of the Philippine Fantastic. Our aim is that the site can serve  as a launching pad for great Filipino SF, and also a venue for a greater understanding of the magical, speculative and scientific aspects of our culture and heritage. But most of all, want we want the site to do is create a community, and for that we need your help. We want to hear what you guys want in a site that aims to be something akin to the io9 or Tor.com of the Philippine Fantastic.

Tell us: what kind of topics would you like to cover? What kid of features or posts would keep you coming back? Here’s a list of things we’re working on:

  • A free online zine with SF short stories from Filipino authors old and new
  • Interviews with creators/writers/artists
  • Reviews of Filipino created books and komiks
  • Roundtable discussions on important issues or interesting questions
  • Reviews of non-Filipino created media that would interest Filipino SF readers
  • Articles exploring our myths, legends, culture and history
  • Silly–but sincere–fan speculation about our favorite local characters (I’m working on a post pitting certain cast members of Trese ant the Mythology Class against each other)

If you have content you want to see on the new site, please let me know in the comments section (which will be moderation free). On September 9, at 9:00 a.m., we’ll post the address for the new site here (those of you who’ve already seen it please don’t make the URL or the imprint name] public–it’s not quite ready for prime time yet -_-).

Hold on to your seats everyone. Not sure where this journey will take us, but I promise you we’re going full speed ahead.

Locus Reviews PSFIV and A Time for Dragons

Note: Been having internet problems so updates might be intermittent. I’ll be updating the Twitter account, visible from here, if there’s breaking/interesting news.

Issue07_cover582_150x194

The July 2009 issue of Locus, the U.S. magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, carried a pleasant surprise for fans of Philippine speculative fiction: a review of not one, but two local anthologies, namely “Philippine Speculative Fiction IV” and “A Time for Dragons” by Rich Horton.

The two reviews are not available online, but with the help of relatives I was able to order a copy (which became a less arduous  task when I called off the bookstore hunt after I learned that Locus wasn’t being sold in brick-and-mortar stores @_@). I just got my hands on it this weekend and thought I’d share some of the contents of the review, given the fact that an issue of Locus can be a tad difficult to chase down.

In his dual review, Mr. Horton stated that “[i]n feel these two books are entirely consistent with similar products from the American and English small press” and the fact that many stories are set in the Philippines makes these stories “just unfamiliar enough to most readers to pique additional interest.”

Mr. Horton went on to name a few of his favorites from each anthology, which I’ll list here along with any comment he might have had that didn’t involve a summary of the story. Note that some of the praise he had for these stories was tempered by less positive comments, usually having to do with predictability, but since he did cite them as the best stories, I’m probably safe in assuming that the good he saw in each outweighed the bad.

[The list can be found after the break.]

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Waking the Dead Book Launch

(cover by Andrew Drilon)

Just received word that Yvette Tan’s first collection of horror (mostly) fiction entitled “Waking the Dead” will be launched on August 15, 2009 from 4-7 pm at Powerbooks Megamall. Yvette’s stories have been included in Philippine Speculative Fiction III and IV, Night Monkeys and A Time for Dragons, as well as magazines like Rogue, Uno and the Philippine Free Press. If you want a taste of her storytelling abilities, she has links to works that are available online at her site.

I wonder what she means when she says the stories are “mostly” fiction though… *shivers*

The Farthest Shore: Partial List of Stories

Slightly old news (and somewhat self-serving I know, but hey, I would have posted this regardless) but Joseph Nacino and Dean Alfar have announced “after much deliberation” the list of stories accepted for the “Farthest Shore” the upcoming anthology of Filipino secondary world fantasy (which you might remember from here). In no particular order, the stories and authors are as follows:

1. Balancing Darkness- Rodelle Santos
2. Hindsight- Paolo Chikiamco
3. Rite of Passage- Dominique Cimafranca
4. The Just World of Helena Jimenez – Eliza Victoria
5. Spelling Normal- Mia Tijam
6. Emberwilde – Nikki Alfar
7. Light – Kate Aton-Osias
8. They Spoke of Her in Whispers – Bessie Lasala
9. In the Arms of Beishu – Vincent Simbulan
10. Wildwater- Crystal Koo

Two more stories will be added, one from each of the editors, to bring the total number to twelve. “The Farthest Shore” is intended to be released in digital/online form sometime late August.

I’m really excited for this one, even setting aside for the moment that my story will be in it. Still, it’s good to know that all that toil and research was not in vain.

Jeffrey Ford Reviews Philippine Speculative Fiction IV

Awesome news for Philippine Spec Fic: Jeffrey Ford, world renowned fantasy author  (whose works have won and/or been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the Fountain Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award) recently reviewed Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar, and found much to his liking, singling out in particular stories by Andrew Drilon, Noel Tio, Maryanne Moll, Charles Tan, Celestine Trinidad, Isabel Yap, Paolo Jose Cruz, Kate Aton-Osias and Adam David.

From the review:

I don’t know how many US readers and writers are aware of it, but there is a vital and growing SF/F community in the Philippines these days. Good evidence exists for it in this latest volume of the anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction IV.

One need not delve too deeply into this Philippine literary phenomenon to quickly realize that there is a treasure trove of talent there. Volume 4 of the series is, in my humble opinion, the best yet in the series.

I’ve only touched on a representative handful of stories here. There were other pieces in the anthology that I liked as well as these. The book is well worth your time.

Congratulations to Dean and Nikki, as well as to all the authors-especially those given special mention. Now all you guys need to do is make the 5th even better right? No pressure.

If you want to show Mr. Ford some love, his website can be found here, and he keeps a livejournal account here. His excellent books and collections are also available on Amazon amongst other fine retailers (can’t recall if I’ve seen any here).

Review: Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (3 of 4)

It has been awhile since the last, but here is part 3 of my story-by-story review Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Alfar and Nikki Alfar. Here are my thoughts on stories thirteen to eighteen, with my thanks to each author for sharing their story with us.

I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but nevertheless, fair warning: Here There Be Spoilers.

“Breaking the Spell” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

I remember a famous writer was giving advice on the use of different POV modes to aspiring authors, and he was asked when he thought it was appropriate to use a second person point of view. His answer:  don’t. While I don’t quite agree–a result of a childhood steeped in Choose-Your-Own-Adventures perhaps–second person present tense is hard to pull off, especially as in the case of this story, where the viewpoint character has actual characteristics (a young girl with long black hair and a beautiful voice).

The good news is Ms. Rochita pulls the second person POV off well… the only thing is, I’m not sure what the use of second-person really added to the story. The other POV in the story is set firmly in the third-person, and works just as well. Perhaps the shift in POVs is meant to higlight the different worlds (literally) inhabited by the main characters, but again, I think it would have been fine without it. POV necessity aside, while I did have some plot quibbles (why were such dangerous items being stored in a residence?), I really enjoyed the airy, almost fey character of the prose and I’m all for hero(ines) who break out of established gender roles.

“The Dance of the Storm” by Isabel Yap

I liked the first line of the story “It is raining when he first sees her”–although perhaps unintentionally, the first paragraph left me with the mistaken impression that the POV character was a kapre, at least until the last line of said paragraph. The prose is very well done, very fluid (pun unintended), so much so that it took me awhile to realize that this was the second straight story–going in sequence–that was told in present tense. I particularly like the second section of the story, with the short contrasting sentences used to show confusion and ambivalence. The story maintained an ethereal atmosphere all throughout, and was exactly the length necessary to tell its tale and tell it well. My only quibble was that some of the poetic structure of the prose bled into the dialogue, making the latter feel a bit stiff and unnatural–but then, I don’t know if Ms. Isabel purposefully sought that kind of formality of speech.

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